Advance Magazine

A Wedding Testimony

On Christmas Day 2021, BMM missionaries Michael Carlyle and Nathan Waldock and their GFA coworker Forrest McPhail performed what may be the first foreign-led Christian wedding done in Cambodia’s traditional style. Because of the complexity of Cambodian ceremonial language and customs, weddings are usually led by Cambodian pastors, with missionaries playing only a supporting role. It was a milestone event, but the story behind the couple was even more remarkable.

The gospel changes lives

The bride, Srey Ching, grew up in a family scarred by alcoholism and abuse. Several years ago, Srey Ching’s mother came to know the Lord, and the change was profound. She gave up alcohol and started bringing her kids to church. Even though relatives and fellow villagers persecuted Srey Ching’s mother, she persisted in following the Lord. She had previously considered divorcing her husband because of his shameful behavior as an alcoholic. But when she learned what the Bible says about divorce, she determined to stay with him and be the best wife she could be. Her testimony attracted her children’s attention, and they each made professions of faith. Two are still walking faithfully with the Lord, and one of them is Srey Ching.

Determined to marry only a believer

As Srey Ching grew older, she watched the lives of Christian women she knew. Despite Scripture and godly counsel, some of them married unbelievers, and their lives and testimonies unraveled in misery. Srey Ching steadfastly determined that she would marry only a believer.

Eventually, a young man became interested in her, Veasna. He accepted her invitation to church and participated in family devotions at Srey Ching’s house every evening. Michael Carlyle taught him a two-month Creation-to-Christ gospel series, and Veasna professed faith and was baptized. Yet Srey Ching still wasn’t satisfied. She and the church had witnessed other men profess Christ just to “get the girl.” Her believing family and the church watched Veasna’s life for spiritual fruit. After two years, they all were satisfied that he was truly a believer. Only then did Srey Ching agree to marry him.

When Srey Ching and Veasna insisted on the foot washing ceremony, it shocked their community to see them honoring a dishonorable father during his lifetime, all because of obedience to Christ.

Honor your father and mother

In planning their wedding, Srey Ching and Veasna wanted it to be a good testimony to their family and community. Cambodian unbelievers experience disgust mixed with curiosity as they watch their own people break with traditions that go back hundreds or thousands of years to follow a “foreign God.”  

Cambodian Christians are often accused of dishonoring their parents because they do not worship them in life (including during their wedding ceremonies) or make offerings to them after death. 

Because of the biblical command to honor parents, Cambodian Christians feel the need to honor
their parents without crossing into worship.
Srey Ching and Veasna chose a new wedding tradition that has developed among believing Cambodians in which the bride and groom wash their parents’ feet to show them honor. Their whole village knew that Srey Ching’s father’s alcoholism humiliated his family and caused them hardships. When Srey Ching and Veasna insisted on the foot washing ceremony, it shocked their community to see them honoring a dishonorable father during his lifetime, all because of obedience to Christ. 

Michael opened the foot washing ceremony explaining the obligation of all people to honor God first because He is our Creator and Savior. Forrest then preached on the biblical commandment that children honor and obey their parents. As with the rest of the ceremony, this was all done in the customary way—over loudspeakers that resonated through the village, many hearing the gospel for the first time.

The whole village heard about God

Srey Ching and Veasna had often reaffirmed that their greatest concern was to please God. Throughout the morning of the wedding, their relatives and the whole village heard the Bible read and preached. A few of the guests tried to disrupt the ceremony in disgust, but most were attentive throughout. The missionaries heard praise from some of the older women in attendance, and a few of the guests read the church’s song books during the breaks. All of them heard of their blessed Creator, His gospel, and of Srey Ching and Veasna’s union in Christ. Believing family had opportunities to further testify of their faith to unbelieving guests.

Now may God be glorified in Srey Ching and Veasna’s new life as one in Christ.

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